Depression and me pt 2

Hi guys, I hope you have had a good weekend. I want to apologise for my utter failed to get this up on Friday but better late than never right? At least I managed to get my arse in gear and write the second part of my journey to finally being diagnosed with depression.

When I left off last time, I had just turned 18 and had been discharged from the community mental health team up in Worcester having been told I had a bad case of teenage mood swings. It wasn’t just that though not at all.

For the next year, things eased off a little bit. That’s not to say I didn’t have days when I was at an utter lack of what to do with myself. The stress of exams and continued social anxiety were still an issue for me, but I tried to pass it off as just being a teenager as that is what I had been told by a professional who deemed that nothing was wrong with me.

However, when I went to uni things started to take a turn for the worse. I became increasingly isolated as I was increasingly self-aware and conscious of the fact that I didn’t have anyone I knew around me. I found it difficult to make friends which meant I rarely had anyone I felt I could talk to and confide in to help get me out of my headspace.

I didn’t feel that I was worthy of being at uni at all. I didn’t think I was intelligent or creative enough to be doing the ccourse that I was doing. I saw others around me having such a good time, what seemed like all the time. I wasn’t a part of that which made me withdraw even further into myself. I couldn’t and therefore didn’t cope with anything.

Around half way through my first year was the first time that I hit the first true low and had a moment of complete and utter lack of logical thinking. I wanted so badly to hurt myself in some way. For me the easiest way to do that was to take to much of the anti-epaleptic drug that I take.

This had the effect of making me very sick and slightly out of it. Despite this I still went to my lecture that day and tried my very hardest to carry on as if I hadn’t done anything at all. There was only one person who truely bothered to come after me and ask if I was ok. For that I was thankful. However, notheing further came of it. When I got back to my dorm I was left on my own again to be sick and try and salvage something of the day.

The next time someone noticed that I wasn’t quite right was when my flute teacher noticed that I had cut myself. A few days previously I had, completely by accident I might add, managed to smash a glass of mine in the kitchen of my flat in my second year. This was simply due to my own clumsyness as a partially sighted person who managed to forget I had set the glass on the work surface, moved my arm and knowcked the glass to the floor.

At the time I picked up one of the shards of glass I obviously wasn’t thinking straight, no pun intended of course. Mental illness has this funny way of skewing the way you think. You don’t think of throwing it away because it could hurt someone else and it’s of no use any more. You see it as a tool to hurt yourself on the outside, thus trying to aliviate the pain you are feeling inside.

Anywhno it was a hot summers eveing and the music rooms did tent to be rather stuffy. I had to take my jumper off othersie I would simply have fainted due to heat. My teacher was so helpful and unfasied by the situation. She offered to help me book an oppintment with student services to seek advice and support.

If it wasn’t for her and what she did for me I don’t know what could have happend. Luckily I managed to see the doctor and was perscribed citalipram which is an SSRI drug, a form of anti depressant. I was offered this drug becasue it was the safest option for me with the epilim, the anti-epileptic drug I take.

That along with some counceling did help to aliviate the pain I was feeling, to a certain extent. It didn’t get down to the root of the caurse though but it helped me get through the next year and a half of my degree.

During the may of my third year an event happened that I still to this day find hard to believe actually happened to me. I still have a mental block about it and have a tendancy to play it down. I was at a friends house party, a friend that I have known since I was sixteen. We were celebrating her and another friends birthday.

During the eveing we all had quite a few drinks. I wasn’t completely off my face but I wasn’t stone cold sober either. Anywho I needed to go to the loo as I felt that I MIGHT be sick but I primarily just needed to pee.

So one of the guys at the party said he would come up and help me be sick if I needed and just kinda followed me. At first, coz I had consumed alchohol I was like ‘ok sure’. So it turned out that I just needed to pee.

Anywho as I was sitting there on the loo he started to kiss me. At first I wasn’t that bothered about that. But then he started to touch me and tried to touch me down there. I said I didn’t feel comforable with him doing that. He tried to keep on doing that with me telling him that I really wasn’t into it. Luckily he did stop before it went any further.

However, he said that he wouldn’t let me out of the loo because he didn’t want people thinking that we’d had sex which was just a stupid idea because the longer we stayed in there the more people would have thought we were having sex. That in itself scared me. I didn’t want to be in there. I just wanted to get out any away from the situation.

Now people will say that that is sexual assault. In my mind’s eye it’s hard to try and explain. Intelecually and logically I know that it is but somehow I can’t actually convice myself that it really is. Does that make any sense? To me it’s almost just like an event that happened to someone else almost. It’s almost like because it wasn’t rape it wasn’t anything at all. Even writing about it now or having spoken about it in therapy in the past it’s like it happened to someone else but when I talk about it I get uncomfortable. It’s like I’ve completely detached myself from what actually happened.

I don’t know if I can give it justice really. It’s like I wasn’t that person and that I’ve never been violated like that but I know that I have. It’s a weird state of being. I never pressed charges because I didn’t think I had been done wrong by. I didn’t think that I would be taken seriously when I couldn’t even fully accept and acknowledge that it had truely happened.

So after the event I carried on my mary way and finished my degree and left uni feeling completely and utterly lost. I didn’t know what I wanted to do next. All I really knew was that I wanted to work with people with a learning disability because I had volunteered at a theatre company for adults with a learning disability. But I didn’t know what to do, which path to go down, what there was out there to to or how to go about doing anything like that in my local area.

In the summer of 2013 I applied, through clearnce, and managed to get a place on the Learning disability nursing degree course at my local uni which was convinent because I could stay at home and didn’t have to take out another loan to carry on studying or stay in halls.

So for another academic year I was in uni and studying for something that I thought would give me a job and a career to look forward to which would mean money and security and a bit more of a clear cut plan for my future.

However at the end of my first year I was told that I was unable to carry on into my second year, effectivly I was kicked off the course. I had just completed my third and final placment for the year and concerns had been raised about my ability to read the MAR charts and labels on medication boxs. I wasn’t even given a chance to do a catch up placement to try and redeem myself. It was deemed that it would be to unsafe for me to continue. My final placement had been in an inpatient mental health ward for people with learning disabilities where behaviour can be exta challenging. In heinsight I could have utalised more equipment to help me to easily read MAR charts and med boxes and when qualified I would choose not to work in an enviroment where I would be putting myself at risk. However, the decision was taken away from me.

A year of my hard work, time and effort had been wripped from under my feet. I felt totally lost again and with no direction to head in. I’m someone who rarely gets angry about situations but this one really wrattled me. I wasn’t given a second chance to try and prove myself. I have seen and heard stories of people with my condition becoming medical practitioners. One a doctor in an ER and another, a nurse who qualifed from a different uni. Therefore it is by no means of the imagination impossible for me to have completed the course. I was angry that I wasn’t given that chance by this one uni. That they had so little faith in me and my potential ability to do something. I really made me wander if I was ever going to be able to do something worth while because of other people’s lack of awarness about visual impairment.

Within a couple of months of me leaving uni I started working in an independant living home for adults with learning disabilities. To say it was a challenge would be an understatment. The constant chaos and instability of the mental health of the people there, the long hours and the feeling that I wasn’t really making much of an impact did put a strain on me and my coping mechinisms and ability to keep my head above water.

After those two years I really did start slipping again and seriously contemplated finding a way of taking my own life. I felt as if I wasn’t able to cope with anything anymore. I didn’t want to have to cope anymore. I felt that I was a burden to those around me and that they would be better off without me as I wasn’t able to provide anything useful to anyone. What could I offer that someone else couldn’t give them?

Again the self harm started to rear its ugly head. I would cut a lot more and deeper than I ever had before hand. It was almost like the physical pain was such a relief. I didn’t have to be stuck in my own head any more. I could focus on something else and that was glorious.

It wasn’t until my mum saw the marks on my arm and urged me to go and see my GP that I finally managed to get the proper help that I needed. I was diagnosed with chronic moderate depression with symptoms of social anxiety and PTSD. I was lucky enough to have my meds uped and given a course of CBT which really did help me to understand the root causes of a lot of my problems.

Luckily it has now been two years since then and I have not had any major issues. I will admit that I still have my days when the thoughts do get to me a bit and I’m not my usual self but it’s nowhere near as bad as it was. Although I have had the odd suisidal thought I have never felt the need to self harm or take things into my own hands again.

That’s not to say that I will be scott free for the rest of my life. As with any other chronic illness Depression can have a tendancy to relapce but for now things are ok and I’m muddling by in a much more stable mind set.

I hope this post wasn’t too jumpy and had some sort of cohent way about it. For now my lovelies I shall love you and leave you, Until next time, have a good week. 🙂

Depression and me pt 1

Hi, guys. I want to start off by apologising for this post being a week late. I was on holiday in Venice with my family last week hence why there was no upload. I hope you guys have had a good couple of weeks.

Today I will be talking about my personal experience with depression. I will be spliting this over two posts as I don’t want this to be to long, leaving you bored and unable/unwilling to read all the wa to the end. It can be a hard and emotional topic to discuss, but I want to write about this in the hope that light will be shed on different experiences allowing for the stigma around mental illness will be diminished even just a little.

It’s estimated, that approximately 1 in every four people will suffer from some form of mental health problem at some point in their lifetime, with depression, anxiety or a mix of both being the most common diagnoses.

Although depression doesn’t discriminate between age, gender, race, culture, economic status, disability or physical/mental ability, sexuality or any other outside factor, some groups are more at risk of experiencing a mental health problem.

Those who are older, identify as LGBT or have a pre-existing disability or medical condition to contend with are more likely to face discrimination, homelessness, poor ill health, the potential for isolation, poor or complete inability to participate in meaningfull activities and poorer access to the local and wider community. Inability to acess high quality education, work and lower wages leading to poverty.

As I have mentioned above these are just possible risk groups. It is not to be assumed that anyone and everyone who is elderly or disabled/chronically ill will face mental illness. Nor is it acceptable to presume to someone who seems to have everything is immune from suffering from a mental illness.

There are many many situations that can bring on mental ill health. Anyone suffering must be listened to, treated with respect, given appropriate help for their personal pridicamant and treated as a human being who’s life is valubale.

I myself started experiencing symptoms of depression from the age of 16. I had recently moved away to boarding school during term times. I went to a specialist education school for 11 – 19 year olds with a visual impairments.

I personally loved being away from home and I never really had any issues with the whole aspect of living away from my family as I got to see them on the odd weekend that I went home or during school holidays.

However, up until then I had been in mainstream education and I think the extreame difference between the two different settings made me, subconciously, realise just how differnt and isolated I had felt during my time in mainstream education.

During the school day, at my mainstream setting, I’d had a TA with me in the majority of my lessons. The teachers never understood my sight or what I needed. There was a lack of consistancy in terms of the work that was provided in a format that was accessible to me. I was often told that I had to use tools that I believed made me stand out and made me feel uncomfortable.

I knew and inherintly feelt different from my peers. Couple this with someone who isen’t the brightest social butterfly and you get someone who becomes awkward and socially anxious. I believe that my visual impairment did have a massive impact on the way I interacted with others and I can find it hard at times to read others imply because I find it more difficult to physically see what they are doing so that has lead to some awkward or hesitant reactions on my part sometimes.

I have also noticed that I am someone who is so self depricated it has gotten to the point where compliments have and still do sometimes feel like stabs of pain. They make me feel like the person who is dishing out the compliment is a fake and rather two-faced. It is a rather odd and debilitating state of mind.

Due to this mentality I have shied away from fully participating in activities that I love such as singing and other instrimental solos and so on. I’m so concerned with people’s initial thoughts of me. I also have this irational need to do something perfectly the first time round therefore, I make myself extra nervous and fuck up even more than I would if I was more relaxed and less concerned.

I have a feeling that this way of thinking and the feeling of being different but not wanting to appear visually impaired all became to much, therefore, by the time I was 16 it started taking its toll on my mental health.

I have written a previous post about my coming out story. I also believe that this had a major impact on my life and mental health as I was so confused and scared about the whole issue. I didn’t know if I was into girls or guys or both. I just wanted to know one way or the other and that instability and confusion can be frustrating and taxing on any individual.

At times during the three years that I was at boarding school I started to feel that I wasn’t up to much. I truely started to feel unworthy of being anyone’s friend. I couldn’t see what I could offer. I always felt that there was someone else who could give that same level or even a better quality of friendship to someone. I started to feel jelous of others and frustrated and defeated within myself.

I alway felt like I was missing out on all the cool hang outs and fun and funny moments that the social aspect of the school had to offer. Due to this I started to withdraw myself at times and so I found myself in a catch 22 situation. I desperatly wanted to be around others but somehow couldn’t find out how to fit exactly into any one circle of friends, thus missing out on some of the inside jokes and ways of acting. I also found myself feeling rather awkward at times, un-naturally funny, witty, intelligent I didn’t feel I had anything to offer and would hold back from contributing more fully to conversations.

It was also around this time in my life that I started having the very first niggling thourghts of self harm. I never did anything particularly serious. Approximatly twice I purpously took a few too many anti-epileptic tablets with the result of very minor headaches and feeling slightly lathargic.

At about 17 I finally went to a pediatric phycologist where I had some assessments and counciling. That only lasted a few months though before I turned 18 and I was handed over to the adult services.

That very first assessment of my ‘adult’ life would be the last one within that particular setting. I got told that I was experienceing extreame moods that could be typical within adolecence but was nothing to worr about it. No more action was taken at that time and I carried on as normal, well normal for me.

For now my lovlies I will finish. I shall pick up the story approxiamatly half way through my first year at uni when I was 19. I shall love you and leave you until next time. I hope you all had a good easter weekend :).

The enlightenment of a lesbian

Hi Everyone I hope you’ve had a fantastic week. Today marks the end of the Easter term. Working in a school sets you up to fall into a weird state of mind where you start counting down the days until the next holiday right from the first day of term. That’s not to say I don’t love my job because I do beyond belief but if you ask anyone who works in a school and they don’t openly admit to counting the days off on their calendars, then you can safely assume they do it in private.

However, that is not what I’m going to be talking about today. I will be talking about my experience of coming out as a lesbian. I’m now 26 and the process, for me, started when I was around 13 – 14 years old. It’s strange to think that I’ve known that I like girls/women for a longer period than I didn’t.

I feel the need to start off by saying that I feel very thankful that I am one of the very lucky ones. Many people in the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community have faced a lot of stigma, fear, persecution, hate and have been the victims of crime even among their families. I can only speak for myself and my own, rather sheltered story.

I have been lucky enough to have a supportive group of friends and family members around me my entire life who have, with very little comment, accepted who I am.

So my journey began when I was around 13 years old nearing the end of Year 9 of secondary school. It was at this time in my life when I started to become aware of the fact that I found women good looking. At that age, I didn’t realise what that meant. I guess you could say that I just thought that was a regular thing that every girl did. I’d had crushes on boys in my year. However, being able to look back now I can see that there was a clear distinction starting to form between the way I was starting to view other girls in my year to the way I was looking at boys.

This spark began to grow and develop until I was 14 and half way through year 10. It was at this stage in my life that I had my first proper crush on a friend of mine. I couldn’t get over how cool she was, she was confident, amazing at art, had that gothic independent streak in her. I either wanted to be her or be with her. I couldn’t quite make up my mind but either way, I knew I liked being around her.

One evening I picked up the courage to message her on myspace, god that takes me back; unfortunately, the feelings weren’t mutual luckily she was cool with it, and we remained friends. She was kind enough to give me some soothing words of advice. For the life of me, I can’t remember her exact words, but I remember the gist.

Only you know your mind, feelings and emotions. You’re the only one who knows what’s right for you. If you like girls that’s fine, if you like boys that’s fine, if you like both that’s fine as well. Only you can know that and no-one can make that call for you. That same sentiment applies to anyone in the LGBT community. Each will identify differently.

If someone is transgender (someone born into one gender, male or female but feels strongly that they were born into the wrong body i.e. they are the opposite gender to their body and will likely suffer from body dysmorphia) then who are we to tell them they can’t be who they truly are?

If someone identifies as non-binary – genderfluid, agender, bigender (an individual born in the body of one gender but feels like their personality and mentality can vary between male or female) then we cannot constrict them from presenting in a way that makes them happy and comfortable in who they are.

Somebody who might identify as Bisexual – emotionally and physically attracted to both men and women, may be seen as unable to make up their mind. I was on the receiving end of comments like this when I was around 16 – 17 years old and however light-hearted the comment may be it can still be hurtful by the way). They are not constrained to a gender. Rather, they like the personality of the individual. Another word often used in this situation is pansexual.

Of course, there are many labels for people who lie along the spectrum of straight or lesbian/gay and male/female and many people may have more than one label. However, it can be very confusing and very constricting at times to be labelled, and some individuals do not like to label themselves but just live each day as it comes.

Anywho getting back to my story, it was not long after that incident that I was able to find the courage to come out as bisexual to my group of friends at school. Luckily I was not the only person in that particular group who identified as Bi, so I felt fairly at ease to do so.

My parents, on the other hand? Well, that was the terrifying part. You never quite know how they’ll react, whether it’ll bother them if they’ll feel disappointed and betrayed. Not having that control over reactions and the fear of the consequences of your feelings can be a frightening thing.

You don’t want to be shut out because of who you are and how you express yourself. You don’t want to be belittled or undermined because you are a certain way or your sexuality doesn’t conform to the outdated social construct of what is considered normal.

I can’t remember the finner details of when I told my mum that I thought I was Bi. I believe it was because I wasn’t initially planning on saying anything at that particular time. It was a relaxed Saturday evening, and I think The X Factor was on and my mum had asked my brothers what they thought of Cheryl Cole and then she asked me and it just came out that I figured I was bi.

I also think I was lucky in the fact that it wasn’t made a big deal of. It was almost like nothing had been said, not in a negative, ‘we’re gonna ignore this’ type situation, it was more of an, ‘ok that’s fine we’re comfortable with this, and you can talk to me whenever you feel you want to’, kind of situation.

So from the age of around 14, I was officially Bi, and I started to accept that it was ok for me to like both men and women. I learnt that this ‘shift’ in one aspect of my life didn’t mean the end of the world, more it was just part of me growing up and getting to know more about myself.

For the next 3 – 4 years, if anyone ever asked me about my sexuality I would say that I was Bi.

When I was 16, I went to a specialist boarding school for people with Visual Impairments. It was my first time away from home and a time that I learnt a lot about myself. Being away from home at this age can be a rather peculiar feeling. You have the licence to explore who you are without the confinement of your parents being on your back the entire time.

It was during this three year period that I went through a huge mental and emotional journey regarding my sexuality. To say that I was confused would be the understatement of the year.

I had gone from being straight one minute 2 years beforehand to being Bi. Then during another three year period, I went from being Bi to Lesbian and back and forth for a little while. It’s such a weird state of limbo that you find yourself being in. You never know quite where you stand with yourself.

At that age I was someone who just wanted to know one way or the other. I wanted to be able to label myself. Not quite being able to was a real struggle. It was a strange state of affaires because I had, what you could call, minor crushes, on a couple of the boys in my year at this point in time. However, it was their personality that was more of the attraction rather than their physical being.

I had no idea of what my head or my emotions were doing to me and I think that the worry and the concern did get in the way of letting things just blossom more naturally. I didn’t quite want to be into girls but I knew I wasn’t into boys the same way that all my friends were.

It didn’t help that non of my close friends were experiancing the same thing as me so I didn’t really have anyone to talk to who could truely understand what I was going through and help me in any way. Having real people who you can trust and talk to who have experience of what your situation is can be a life saver at times.

However, since the age of eighteen I have self identified as lesbian. Not that I particularly like that word. I prefer the word gay. As strange as that may seem for a woman. It’s my own personal preference. Some women prefer the word lesbian, some such as myself prefer the word gay and some don’t like to be called anything. It litterally does depend on the individual.

Since 18 I have had a few periods of personal crises where I do wander, ‘am I really, fully gay?’ The simplest answer that would be yes. I would much rather be with another woman than a man. That’s not to say that if I fell for a man I wouldn’t date him and be with him for the rest of my life. No, I think it just depends on the personality of the person. Nonethelss, I know that I am much more physically attracted to women and emotionally, I feel I would be much more relaxed and open with a woman.

However, it is said that sexuality is fluid. I have now come to embrace that saying. It really does depend on the personality of the person, how they make you feel and how you interact. It’s not as black and white as some people make it out to be. It’s all about your own personal beliefs and feelings.

Your love life and sexuality is sometime that only you can be certain of. No one can tell you who you should and shouldn’t be. Yes, the likelyhood is that you will face times in your life when you question who you are and you know what? It’s ok to do so as long as you come to the conclusion and answer the questions by your own valision. There is nothing wrong with not knowing everything all the time but coming to terms with who you are and accepting who you love for them and not their gender/gender identity or sexuality. As long as you have a loving, caring relationship based on trust, friendship, respect and honesty things will wind up working out exactly as they should do.

For now my lovelies I shall love you and leave you until next time. Have a great weekend :).

Daily life with albinism

Hi everyone I hope you’ve all had an enjoyable week.

In my last post, I gave you guys a brief overview of the more technical side of my visual impairment, Occularcutanious Albinism type 2 (OCA2). This week I want to give a brief insight into how this condition has and still affects me in my life so far. I won’t be going into any details about my experiences in both mainstream and SEN education or my experiences with discrimination in this post as I would want to go into further detail about that at a later date. So without any further ado, let’s get this party started.

So I was diagnosed at approximately two months old when my parents began to have concerns about me not looking directly at people and not reacting as a normal child would when people entered a room. After tests had been run, it was concluded in me having this particular condition.

From a young age, I was under the care of Professor Moor M.D at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. I had to have yearly checkups. This would involve, primarily a lot of waiting around, before undergoing different tests, which would include having eyedrops to dilate my eyes. I would then have to place my head into one of those headpieces and look into a bright light, so the professional could see into the back of my eye to evaluate the structure of my eye and the development of my rods and cones which are two structures that make up the retina.

I would also have to do multiple eye chart tests to determine my level of acuity and long distance ability. I also had to read the different sized text in books, to see how small print could be before I started to squint and move forward to see it.

Luckily I only had to go through this long, arduous process once a yea until I was 18. My condition is stable, meaning it won’t get any worse and as I turned 18, the age at which you are legally considered an adult in the UK, I was informed that I didn’t need annual appointments anymore. Thus I would only need to go if I felt it necessary.

Luckily I have never needed to go back to Moorfields to this date, and hopefully, I won’t need to for a long time coming.

Yes so this is all good and well Ellie, but you haven’t told us how you deal with everyday life yet. Well hang on I’m going to get to that now you, my lovelies.

I want to start off by saying it’s very hard to try and explain what I can and can’t see as I have nothing to compare my vision too. However, I will try my best.

A lot of the time people will ask me if my vision is blurry. The simple answer to that is no. My visual acuity is pretty decent. It’s not as sharp as my peers without a visual impairment, though. The way I try and explain it to people is by comparing non-HD tvs to the new super sharp screen tvs.

I struggle a lot with long distance i.e. my long distance vision is just like ‘nope I’m not gonna allow you to see clearly what’s a long way away’. This can be a real issue when trying to read things like overhead train or bus stop timetables or overhead menus in restaurants and cafes, don’t even get me started on trying to figure out what drinks they have behind the bar at clubs. Trying to recognise people at a distance can make me feel like an awkward turtle as I won’t recognise them half the time unless I’m right next to them or I’ve passed them. I’m not rude at all, that’s not the sort of person that I am by any means. I haven’t really got a mean bone in my body. However, just knowing that I can appear rude because of my sight is one of the big pet peeves I have about having a VI. If ever you were to ask me if I would have normal sight if I could most of the time I would say no but this issue is one of the two main reasons that I would say ‘yes please’ to normal sight, that and the ability to drive.

When trying to read labels or descriptions on the back of products? Well, lets just say I have no idea how I ever existed before I had my iPhone and it’s assistive technology to help me with that one. I remember the first ever phone I had. Well, sort of It was an updated version of those classic Nokia phones back in the day. Looking back now, I can safely say the screen was an absolute B***H. The screen size was terrible, the picture quality was awful and played havoc with my eyes, and the lack of assistive technology was crazy insane.

When I first got an iPhone, I started off with the 4S, my mind was blown, and I’ve never looked back since. The picture is fantastic, the inbuilt assistive technology, zoom and voice over on every Apple product, works seamlessly and the screen size of the 6S plus that I have at the moment is incredible for me. I also have a very useful app that turns the phone into a magnifier. This app/technology is far superior to any manual hand held magnifier I’ve had in the past. It means I can finally read books, labels, letters, bus and train timetables, etc. with ease and I don’t need to spend an extra £600 on a separate, electronic magnifier because the picture is so smooth, seamless, sharp and clear.

I am in love with apple products, the only thing I don’t have is the laptop. As I mentioned above,  the inbuilt assistive technology is amazing across the bored, there’s no need for any additional costs for things such as JAWS or Supernova, which are screen enlargment/reading systems that you have to pay for and manually install on the computer/laptop. These external systems can be quite expensive and can sometimes be prone to crashing and taking up space on the computer’s internal storage.

When travelling around and about, I’m ok I don’t have any particularly significant issues. The main concerns for me come in the form of stairways, as I have minimal depth perception trying to figure out how deep a step is can be a real nightmare at times. Another issue that I have troubles with is when the colour of the ground changes, e.g. when they have patterns in on flat surfaces in the town centres, because it can sometimes look like there is a step there when there isn’t.

Sometimes people with a VI prefer to walk on a particular side of someone else i.e. the individual prefers to walk on the right or left hand side of the people they are with depending on various factors. I myself tend to walk on people’s left side (the person is on my right hand side) because my left eye is stronger. Therefore, I am able to gain more information about the world around me and react to it quicker because my field of vision isn’t so dominated by the person. It’s a strange sense of relaxed comfort that many, including myself can’t explain to our sighted friends but it’s just a normal day to day way of life for us.

Another issue that likes to creep up on me is my ability or lack thereof to judge how far away moving objects can be, correctly. This is especially tricky in the case of bicycle users as they are not very visible in the first place.

Sometimes, if my eyes are tired, dry or just generally having an off day, I can find it harder to navigate as it’ll take me longer to process the information that I’m receiving because my eyes simply can’t take it in all at once. This is also the case when it’s dazzling outside, and I’m blonde enough to have forgotten my sunglasses.

So this has been quite a long, brief, overview, of how my sight affects my daily life. It can be tough to explain to people sometimes, because, if like me, you were born with a stable condition and you’ve never known any different, you make small allowances without even realising it. That’s just the reality of life for many people with a disability, it’s normal for us, and you know what? That’s ok that’s what we’re used to we know no different and we just carry on with our lives in our unique way.

For now my lovelies I shall love you and leave you until next time. HJave a great weekend :).

Introduction to my Visual Impairment

Hi everyone how are you doing? I hope you’ve had a good week.

Today I will be talking about my visual impairment. I will try and explain as best I can, However, seeing as I have had this condition since birth I have no idea what it’s like to have full vision. Therefore, I have no real comparisons to give you. All I can do is tell you, as much as possible without annoying you, about the condition.

I shall do a separate post next week about what I can see and what I struggle with and how if affects my mobility and all the technological bits and pieces I use to help me in my daily life. This post is just a quick summary of the condition to make you aware of it and hopefully, give you some food for thought and if you want to investigate if further, you are more than willing to. in fact I urge you to.

I have a condition called OCA2 which is short for Occularcutanious Albinism type 2. Approximately 1 in 20,000 people worldwide are affected by some variation of OCA. ‘Albinism is a comparatively rare genetically inherited group of conditions which results in a reduction or complete lack of pigment (colour) in the skin, hair and eyes of people with the condition. This leads to pale skin which burns easily in the sun, virtually white hair, very severe short-sight and photophobia (a severe sensitivity to light).’ Albinism Fellowship, http://www.albinism.org.uk If you are interested in finding out more about the different types of albinism than there are a whole host of useful websites that can provide more detailed information on the subject, however, I am not a medical professional and don’t feel sufficiently well versed to give you that information.

However, what I can tell you is that whatever type of gene is affected the result of albinism is reduced to complete lack of melanin, which is the pigmentation gene. Occularcutanious albinism (mainly skin hair and eyes are affected) is the most common form of albinism. There are four types of OCA and depending on how much pigmentation you have depends on what number you are.

Type 1 = the least amount of pigmentation which can result in the stereotypical red eyes

Type 2 = slightly darker, yellowish or blond hair, blue eyes, slightly better visual acuity and creamier coloured skin.

Type 3 = typically more common among people of colour who may present with straw coloured hair and ever so slightly darker skin and hazel or brown eyes.

Type 4 = this form of albinism is very similar to type 2.

There are also a few other rarer conditions which have similar symptoms to OCA, however as they are separate conditions I shall not go into detail of them here.

As I have mentioned, I have OCA type 2. I have blue eyes, light blondish hair and relatively pale skin. However, the most difficult part of this condition in not the lack of pigmentation to the skin and hair. It’s the effect it has on my vision. My vision is, as recorded by specialist eye doctors, approximately 6/60 meaning I can see things at a distance of 6 meters that you can see from 60 meters away.

I also struggle with photophobia, no I don’t have a fear of having my photo taken, it means that I’m extremely sensitive to certain levels of bright or gleaming light. It can reduce my ability to focus on what I’m looking at and can make my eyes feel delicate and slightly sore after a while. I also have nystagmus which is an involuntary movement of the eye making it harder to focus on objects for too long. I am extremely short sighted which can be a real bugger sometimes, but hey ho all the cool people are short sighted, I joke of course.

People with OCA have to be very mindful of how much time they spend in the sun, and we tend to spend a fortune on factor 50+ sun cream because we turn into over-ripe tomatoes in 2 seconds flat if we’re not careful. Sunglasses are also a must have for those of us with OCA due to photophobia and the increased risk of developing melanoma of the eye. However, it does mean that we get to have lots of cool and fashionable sunglasses for all occasions, so there is at least one upside.

For now my lovelies I shall love you and leave you until next time :).

First post – introduction

Hi everyone how are you all doing?

Today’s post will be a bit of an introduction just so we can say hi get acquainted and you have a bit of an idea of the person behind this blog. So without further ado, let’s get this bad boy rolling.

My name’s Ellie, as I’m writing this post I’m 26 years young and have been since February of this year. The majority of things I will be writing about will be regarding the topics of disability, mental health/illness, LGBT issues, with a slight smattering of gender equality stuff thrown in there every so often. The reasoning behind these particular topics I hear you ask.

Well, the very simple answer is I’m a young woman who has a visual impairment who was diagnosed with chronic moderate depression when I was around 22 years old and is an open lesbian.

I will be discussing these topics from a personal standpoint i.e. situations that I’ve experienced or just general life stories, in a way that I hope will be quite frank. I guess my posts will be my personal way of raising awareness and hopefully give some useful insight to others or educate those who read my posts.

As I mentioned above all my posts here on in will be my own personal experiences or opinions on the topics I will be discussing. I do not wish to offend anyone by what I say. This space is merely a space to share thoughts, feelings and experiences.

See you in the next post guys :).